|Common Nicknames||Lesser Frosthorn, Shaggy Ero|
|Habitat||Mountainous areas of northwestern Regalian Archipelago|
Silvershales are large, well-built mounts primarily wielded by the Heartland Cultures of the Regalian Empire. Originally believed to be monsters capable of tearing a man to shreds, they were later discovered to be quite the gentle giant., Their great throwing capacity has resulted in their modern use as living siege engines, capable of hurling great boulders at their rider’s foe. Silvershales are also highly complex in their private, isolated groups, with a complex societal structure but also a deep caring between members of the same species. Uncommon in the world today, it is likely wild and domesticated populations will remain balanced, but generally low, for the foreseeable future.
The Silvershale has been shrouded in the mysteries of the past for centuries, with tales of beasts much like them abounding for centuries. Described as savage, bloodthirsty, and capable of ripping a fully grown man to pieces within moments, the Silvershale was vilified and feared among many crude Ailor communities across the Regalian Archipelago. However, others contend these tales were Velheim in origin, speaking of Frosthorns which bear a deep similarity to Silvershales. Unlike their cousins, however, Silvershales have no aggression unless provoked, which likely transmitted the fear that eventually made them out to be Frosthorns. However, over time, and as the Regalian Archipelago grew more populated, it was the Ailor of Anglia who first came to see the Silvershale as gentle giants. While building Dragon Temples, many saw the creatures wander at the fringes of the worksites or camps, and a few even approached the beasts calmly, given their humanoid features. It wasn’t until 100 BC that a Silvershale was successfully tamed, and it soon earned a name for itself.
The creature, named Groot after an Akkerman term for its size, was involved in an attack on a small regional castle along the Axell River due to a conflict within the Regalian Kingdom. The castle’s owner had refused to pay taxes and was threatening to unleash further rebellion if he was not allowed certain privileges. Loyal locals attacked the site, including the Silvershale’s owner, Baron Cassiaan van Oort. The tales go that the Baron suddenly had an idea after two weeks of sieging the small castle, and instead of playing catch with his exotic pet, he rapidly trained them to toss the catapult ammo of large, rounded stones. The effect was instantaneous, as with one shot, Groot shattered the castle’s main defense tower, soon forcing a surrender. From this, the Silvershale earned a fierce reputation, and over the following centuries, small populations were domesticated in regions inhabited by the Caeren, Dunbrae, and Breizh. It was ultimately through the two Highland Cultures that the animals would reach other Ceardian regions, where they proved themselves quite effective as mounts in the dense forests, and among Aontaithe enclaves, who enjoyed their strength. This persists in the present day, with the Heartland Cultures using the animal infrequently as a form of travel and a true weapon of war in battle.
Silvershales stand at an impressive eight to ten feet in height and weigh somewhere between 500 and 700 pounds. Their heads are ovular, with a furrowed brow sitting above two large pale brown or blue eyes, a broad, open nose, ending on a thin-lined mouth with a downward curve to it. Two slightly curved off-white tusks emerge from the lower jaw, which are between three and five inches long. They also have Human-like ears pressed close to the sides of their head. A thick neck attaches to this head to the rest of the body, a well-muscled, agile machine of speed. The animal, while capable of walking upright, will both run and periodically walk on all fours, this motion a result of two bulky, long arms with built-for-wear five-finger hands and thick knuckles which the mammal walks on. The rear legs, located closer to the ground and located below a sloped back which pushes the chest forward, feature five-toed feet. The animal is covered in a thick layer of white fun which silvers as they age. However, their feet soles, and hand palms are bright pink, while their faces have similar pink skin emerging around the eyes, nose, and mouth area.
Silvershales are generally equal in gender numbers, and lack sexual dimorphism telling them apart. Some say females are smaller, but there have been some fairly notable exceptions over the past several decades.
Life Span and Development
Silvershales are liveborn as a lone baby, or with a twin sibling, and never more than that. When they emerge, they are small, feeble, half-blind, but covered in a thick layer of white fur already. This helps protect them from the cold of their natural habitats. They also primarily sustain themselves by feeding on their mother’s milk, and eating what meat or plants the father returns with. By the age of six months, Silvershale babies are allowed to leave the den with their parents, often clinging to their backs or fronts, and having barely grown. Babies are weaned at about eight to ten months after birth. It takes a further three years from birth for Silvershales to physically mature, and by the age of five years old, they are considered teenagers. A further ten years sees them grown to full adults, their adult mentality matching their bodies, and they then break from their parents to join the wider troop. Silvershales in domesticated surroundings, however, are often separated from their parents a few years earlier, or at least introduced to the idea of spending more time with members of Aloria’s sentient Races, most commonly Ailor. Training for Silvershales begins even earlier, at the point babies are allowed to go with their parents into the wider troop. Silvershales in the wild and domesticated surroundings live for around the same length of time, this being forty to fifty years.
Silvershales have a complicated, highly social mental overview. The species is overall very caring of one another, primarily seen in their treatment of their children. Both parents are patient with their offspring, and even if the child, one, or both are male, adult males will not become assertive over them. Silvershale communities are also kind to each other as adults, with grooming a communal activity taking place around midday. This mentality also exists in domesticated Silvershales, and their keepers often allow the picking through of their hair by a charge or two and do a similar process to keep the animal clean through concerted effort. However, there is still an internal hierarchy among wild Silvershale groups, with a grouping of alpha males above the females and beta males. Alpha males are distinguished often by their seniority, as well as their physical strength in defeating challengers to their position. However, sometimes, should an alpha male grow too old, the collective troop, females and males, will reject his presence and force him to join the beta males at the fringe of the society. A new male will then rise to take his place. Competition for the position of alpha is often a series of breaking social conventions, a male grooming the favored female of an alpha before him at midday, or the gathering of food, then giving it to others. Ultimately, alphas fight it out, beating their chests and coming head to head, literally, staring each other in the face and only occasionally actually pushing or punching one another. Females, for their part, are largely disconnected from all of this, focusing on raising any young in the troop, and further, minor, tasks.
Territory and Groupings
Silvershales live in troops in the wild, made up of three dominant males, a host of females, and several beta males in and around the area, making up a sort of “lookout” for the troop though they are also kept away by the males in control. Solitary male or female Silvershales are infrequent but are seen in groups thath grew too large, and temporarily dissolved. The troop grounds are considered their territory, and Silvershales all have their personal space, but they will not attack individuals who approach or pass through their territory unless it is directly aggressive or disruptive. Their territory makes up the high peaks of mountains, often existing in and around caves that serve as dens, or high-altitude forest valleys. Silvershales in domesticated areas however\ are born and live in “barracked troops,” small groups of two to four families cared for by handlers and trainers in rural areas or the fringes of cities. Aggression and social hierarchy are limited here, and there is little to no territorial spirit in the Silvershale, save against those who would try to harm their riders.
- Groot’s gender remains unknown, despite their generally well-documented life.
- Silvershales have yet to actually encounter any Frosthorns, and some scholars eagerly await such a day in order to learn what might take place.
- In the aftermath of the Battle of Curag Fields, a number of Silvershales on Veløya in Essalonia were briefly confused for Frosthorns by panicked, non-local soldiers. They luckily did not kill any of the creatures, as one threw a boulder at the group causing them flee, allowing the locals to calm them down.